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Home » Symphonic Services Division » ROPA Notes: Annual Conference and Returning to Work

ROPA Notes: Annual Conference and Returning to Work

  -  Regional Orchestra Players’ Association President and Member of Local 30-73 (St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN)

The 37th Annual Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA) Conference will be held online this summer. Dates and times will be adjusted for online virtual meetings, but we expect much of the conference will be held during the originally scheduled dates of July 27-30. We hope that by having the conference online, many more ROPA orchestra musicians, local officers, and others will be able to join us and see ROPA in action. We plan to hold the 2021 ROPA Conference exactly one year later at the original site of our 2020 conference, the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa Hotel.

COVID-19 has caused a break for our orchestras these past four months, right at the home stretch of our seasons. No concerts, no rehearsals, and many questions raised on if we get back on the stage and in the pit anytime in the foreseeable future. The AFM Symphonic Services Division and the Player Conferences Council have been meeting regularly to discuss how we can take care of ourselves and our organizations now, and how we will safely re-open our concert and performance seasons.

With the best science and knowledge that we have, we have begun to provide our locals and orchestras with guidance on bargaining a safe return to our rehearsal rooms, stages, and orchestra pits. We have consulted worldwide with our colleagues of the International Federation of Musicians for additional knowledge and insight from abroad. We are preparing for future electronic media discussions and negotiations—as that seems to be the first path to safe performances for safe audiences—and planning to make use of our archival recordings to continue to be a presence in our communities.

Our ROPA delegates and others have been sharing reports on our email lists of how their orchestras are responding in the past months on cancellations and compensation for lost services and will continue to do so as we re-open performances and media going forward. Many of us have never had to apply for unemployment insurance, and the availability and rules for what we might receive is variable from state to state. Many musicians in our orchestras have stepped up to help each other work their way through the government systems. We are stronger together! But we are not out of the woods yet, either.

The weeks since Memorial Day have been troubling, with the racism and brutality of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. This crime was committed right here on a street in my community, and it resulted in riots and protests continuing throughout the US and the world. The systemic racism that pervades our society is almost unnoticed by those who are white and privileged. Enough! This must be a wake-up call to finally take action and make definitive change.

We can no longer be indifferent; we need to join together in solidarity and accountability to put an end to racism and injustice and find our humanity and courage to take action.

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